tv Up W Chris Hayes MSNBC February 4, 2012 7:00am-9:00am EST
hello from new york, i'm chris hayes. new york city officials are vowing to investigate the death of majerle graham. early this morning, police dressed in riot gear entered the occupy d.c. encampment in mcpherson square. there are no reports of violence. they are preparing for today's party caucus in nevada where polls show mitt romney holding a commanding lead. i am joined by joan walsh, mismbs political analyst and salon.com's editor at large, karen hunter, msnbc contributor, jodi kantor, author of the book "the obamas." and washington correspondent for "the new york times," baratunde thurston, joining us for the first time. author of the book "how to be black." and director of digital for the onions. great to have you here. >> great to be here. >> the big news on friday which we weren't going to do a block about this and then the job
numbers came in. on friday, the labor department estimated that the economy gained an impressive 243,000 jobs in january. bringing unemployment down to 8.3%. u.s. stock market rallied on the news with the dow jones industrial average closing at nearly 13,000, its highest level since may 2008. check this out. in the past five years the economy has added -- in the past year the economy has added almost 2 million jobs. you can see it there, 1.8 million. more than in any year since the recession started going back to 2007. throughout the past year, republicans had a lot to say about the why the economy is not improving. >> the uncertainty that too many employers already have -- >> the uncertainty coming out of this administration. >> uncertainty in the marketplace. >> the obama era regulations -- >> we eliminate all the regulations. >> job-killing regulations. >> $2 trillion a year deficit. >> deficits do matter. that's why we're here today.
>> trillion dollar deficits. >> it appears it actually may be improving. republicans still blame those same factors and they've not yet landed on a coordinated response to the increase in hiring. >> the president's policies have failed to get our economy moving again. as a matter of fact, it's the president's policies that have actually made our economy worse. >> we have good news this morning on job creation in january. i hope that continues. we get people back to work. >> president obama himself wasted no time laying down his marker on who is responsible for keeping the economy growing. >> the most important thing congress needs to do right now is to stop taxes from going up on 160 million americans at the end of this month. i want to send a clear message to congress, do not slow down the recovery that we're on. don't muck it up. >> i like don't muck it up. i thought it was interesting the republicans did not seem to have a coordinated response yesterday. john boehner gave this press conference, he was talking
about -- he was very dower. 8.3% is high. it's not in a good state at all but the trend is promising. one of the reporters said to john boehner, we talked about this innette editorial meeting, if you were john boehner, why wouldn't you come out and say, look, we got elected to congress, we got the debt ceiling deal locked in, that took away the uncertainty. the now that we know the deficit will be reduce, the jobs are coming back. >> stop taking my ideas. >> i don't think the good speaker watches our program. i was surprised they didn't do that. the reason to me, points to the fact they are in a place where they just can't give the president -- they can't have anything good happen in the world and think that it's not going to help the president who they want to see defeated. >> it will. who said the foolishness of consistency is the hobnob of little minds.
they're so stuck, they're not nimble enough to move when the numbers move and they don't have the brain power to come up with an idea that would support their agenda. >> other frustrating thing to me is, it's not just that they're against the president. they're betting against the american people when they do this, too. >> right. >> you're not allowing for people -- you don't let people feel good about a positive change. this is an objectively positive trend. it's not the end of the resurgence. it's not a full recovery but it's clearly in a positive direction. if you can't allow and acknowledge that, then the people will see that, wait a minute, you don't have my interest at heart either. >> you don't really have any ideas. >> right. >> mitt romney did, let's remember, i think just last month, talking to our friend laura ingram, was confronted by the fact that it was already getting better, again, not good enough. >> it gets better. >> he's like, no, no, it doesn't. >> not on my watch. >> he conceded that it did. >> it's going to be a perfect sound bite for the campaign for november because it was like, yes, of course the economy is
getting better. he's like, well, do you have any better ideas for me, laura? he said that. he was stuck. >> poor baby. >> romney is the one to watch, i think. he's essentially built a single issue candidacy. >> absolutely. >> it's sort of like a table that only has one leg and the leg is -- >> yep. >> there is something i can do for this economy that barack obama either doesn't know how to do or refuses to do. and you know, just as a political reporter chronicling this race, once the obama people or the jobs numbers undercut that leg, i just don see where that candidacy goes. >> i think that's a great point. i actually have in some ways, i think, counterintuitively, i thought romney was a stronger candidate than people on the left were giving him credit for. the fact of the matter is, the discipline, the mono maniacal, nero gottic human discipline he's shown on campaign trail,
staying on that message is useful. a long campaign requires a level of discipline that is indeed inhumane, really difficult. that is the point. the double-edged sworded of that discipline is the fact that he has no defense if the economy gets better. >> no alternative, no flexibility. >> should we be worried that he's going to do something to ruin it? he obviously has the money to mess up the economy. >> all of a sudden his trust is liquidated and massive shorting of the dow jones industrial average. >> here's the problem with coordinating any political message, either the president's or the republicans with the job numbers. they've been going like this for a long time. watching this presidency, watching obama with the jobs numbers every month, it's been like watching charlie brown with the football. because there have been so many times when it's looked like the economy was getting better and then the football gets yanked away from him. so when i look at the clips you just played, some of the tentativeness that we see in some of the politicians'
statements seems to me like an acknowledgement that we don't really know what the numbers will be next month. >> 23 straight months of job growth. >> it seems to be a consistent move in the right direction. i don't think the football has been snatched away at all. we're moving away from the titanic, which was amazing that we scraped it, didn't hit it and now we're moving in the right direction. that's going to take time. it's taking time. but it's going in the right direction every single month. >> i do think they're careful because they did make the mistake of calling whichever summer it was recovery summer. >> tim geithner op-ed and that was after they got initial job numbers and they went negative after that. >> they're going to be cautious about this. >> right. >> there is something to talk about now. >> the europe situation. >> exactly. >> it's still totally unclear, one thing that obama aides chuckle almost, you know, almost with a kind bitter humor about is they say, in 2008 when we were running if you had told us
we would have been worried about the greek pension system -- >> right. >> and whether elderly greek people were going to keep their commitments to the retirement system, they had no idea that this is what they were going to be dealing with. >> i was talking to some people on wall street yesterday, analysts about the jobs numbers and said, you know, what's your story for why this is happening now? and one of them -- one of them made the point, you know, the japanese tsunami had a huge effect on global supply chains, inventories. it was hard to kind of for all of us to get our heads around it. i remember hearing the white house talking about it and think it was excuse-making, frankly. well, i don't know. but actually it had a big effect. there's almost a jobian story to the economy. if europe implodes in the next six months, we're back to square one. >> that's out of his control. >> tensions with iran are going up right about now. >> right. >> i think there are two levels of uncertainty, overall economic
influence on uncertainty, how much can an executive branch control the economy. >> that's exactly it. >> we put a lot of faith and expectations. presidents love to take credit and love to blame the past when it doesn't. there's the unpredictability of all this. we are so highly connected that the elderly greek people and their politicians do affect us, what happens in france and germany strongly affects u. yes. we've done shows where it's -- right now the european central banker, mario draghi and bb netanyahu in israel have as much say over the re-election of the president. >> i think it's interesting, obviously obama can't do this but what i find interesting is the disparity about what the administration says in public about jobs and what they say in private when you go to report at the white house. >> what do they say? >> well, continually, right, they've announced jobs, jobs, jobs. we're going to focus on jobs
numbers. if you go there and have interviews with economic advisers, they totally acknowledge this fallacy that the president can create jobs. >> right. >> there's an old joke about how there's no lever in the basement in the white house that you can pull to create jobs. >> isn't that one of romney's other problems? >> yes. >> he's categorizing himself as a washington outsider. one of the issues that president barack obama had coming in is that he didn't really know the landscape maybe as well as hillary would have known it or where the bones were buried. >> where the lever in the white house actually is. >> he knows now. do we want to hand it over to somebody else who doesn't know where the refer is? >> mitt romney had a weekend where he came out of florida with a definitive victory. today i want to talk about him and the increasing likelihood at this point a week later, of a mitt romney/barack obama matchup. >> it was always likely. >> yes, it was always likely. right after the break. well long.
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i'm in this race because i care about americans. i'm not concerned about the very poor. we have a safety net there. if it's broke, i'll fix it. you can focus on the very rich. that's not my focus. you can focus on the very poor. that's not my focus. >> that's mitt romney. that was the morning after he defeated newt gingrich in florida. >> interesting start. >> yes. we have polling in nevada just so people are clear on what that is looking like as we go towards the caucus today. mitt romney polling 20 points up on newt gingrich. i don't think there's a whole lot of indeterminacy there. >> i wonder what's going to
happen. >> stay tuned all day here. i'm not saying that ironically. >> minute by minute. >> i think the story this week is that finally, i don't want to prematurely bang the gong. >> i will. >> it does appear that the odds of a romney nomination have passed a kind of 80% threshold in my mind. >> right. >> wouldn't you say? >> yes. we were joking about this before. i think that for a while you have to pay attention and the longer these other guys are in the race, the more chance there is they will do serious harm to him. i guess i would take issue a little bit with you about his robotic consistency, the animatronic quality to his campaign. i think that gets him in trouble. i do think that the very fact he can't be unscripted or when he is unscripted he says idiotic things like i'm not concerned about the very poor or i like to fire people. >> or why would he sing a week
after obama sang. >> to upstage yourself. >> downstage. >> when he has to kind of respond to new conditions, he does so with this character of somebody who's pretending to be a person. >> yes. >> who's watch iing baratunde d. >> he's watching me? >> yes. in preparation for the campaign he is reading "how to be black." >> that's why you wrote it. >> you know what really surprises me about the way romney comes across? i did a story a couple weeks ago about his time as a student athe harvard business school and law school. i spend weeks talking to his old classmates. the descriptions of him they gave totally different than the person we see on public stage. >> he enjoyed himself. >> listen, women and men, republicans and democrats in the class, described him as an extremely nice guy. >> yes. >> very eager to help other people. came from a famous background
but was not a jerk about it. genuinely eager to help and do favors for people. and you know, genuinely likable. his classmates are really fond of him. so i write about politicians all the time. and it's made me wonder, is this a reaction that romney is having, the robotic quality you're talking about, is that a reaction to the pressure he's under and also what is it about public life that makes people seem so much less likable than they were back when they were regular human beings? >> we saw it with john kerry, who is profoundly caricaturen. and hillary clinton. i know people that work for the secretary of state. and you know, people would take a bullet for her. that was clear during the campaign, the fierce loyalty to her but -- >> she's also supposed to be hilarious. >> yes. >> getting to know this cold image. >> the person she is actually through people that i know who now work for her was that same
experience of there being a tremendous mismatch of my perception of her as a public figure. >> there's a cumulative effect around mitt's personality that he accidentally reinforces. >> and keeps eenforcing. >> their one percenter is their standard there. he has to bear that flag unwillingly. >> sometimes willingly. >> sometimes willingly. >> but awkwardly right now. he doesn't seem comfortable with himself. he has this defensive attitude. i'm sure he's generous. he does seem like he's nice. to me he seems uncomfortable with himself. >> i think it happens to barack obama. >> does it? he's one of the most likable -- >> he's often described in washington as remote, as being somewhat cold. >> but the american people don see that. that's what we're talking about, the translation of a person's personality. barack obama comes off as somebody who showed up at the apollo theater and belted out a line from al greene and people
are like, whoa. >> there have been other times during the presidency when he's been much harder to access. one of the stories i tell in my book is him during the senate campaign. he skipped out on a fund-raising meeting and nobody could find him. one of his aides tracked him down, a white aide track him down at his barber shop. obama comes into the office a couple hours later and he's comically bellowing at the aide. he says your punishment for disturbing a black man at his zarber shop is to watch the movie "barber shop" and watch the sequel, "batcher shop 2." >> that's good. >> there is a relationship between a black man and his barber, it's sacred. >> quick aside, that's true. speaking for all black men which i occasionally do, truth. >> it was so refreshing to see this looser, funnier barack obama making a joke about race which he can really never do in presidency. >> let's be honest, though, all these people, they are crucified
for the slightest misstep, misstatement. >> absolutely. >> slightest gaffe, slightest revelation of something they really believe. we are part of the process that punishes them and keeps them from letting their hair down. >> i like that moment of self-awareness. >> i want to talk about mitt romney, you brought this up, the candidate of 1%. to drill down past the personalities into the iceberg of money -- >> would you trademark that? >> the iceberg of money that will sink the ship. >> that will sink the ship, right after this break. [ male announcer ] wouldn't it be cool if you took the top down on a crossover? if there were buttons for this? wouldn't it be cool if your car could handle the kids... ♪ ...and the nurburgring? or what if you built a car in tennessee that could change the world? yeah, that would be cool. nissan. innovation for today. innovation for tomorrow.
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number of reasons. one is what we expected about the institution of the superpac, the new kind of campaign organization that has been created in the wake of citizens united and another supreme court decision first cropped up in 2010, being leveraged in 2012. here is what it looks like in terms of what percentage of the donations come from donations greater than $100,000. $100,000. not a lot of people that can write a $100,000 check. 86% of the donations in the super pacs were in donations over $100,000. i'm sorry, this is romney's super pac. >> this is romney's. >> restore our future super pac, 86% of the donations were over $100,000. >> some of these quote, unquote disclosures and filings are contradictions in terms. because it turns out there's no information in them. >> right. >> the lanl labels and the nam prop organizations and so the so-called filings don't always
show who's actually giving the money. >> sometimes it's a corporation with a p.o. box that gave $1 million in provo, utah. >> "the new york times" story was transparent. we tracked down this p.o. box and we waited for someone to show up. not really. they but they talked about the difficulties of finding people. they call it disclosure but really even trained campaign reporters looking at these things don't have any idea what a lot of them mean. >> i think it's so remarkable to think about what -- we are in the midst of seeing something that's a seismic shift. i don't think you within overstate. the only thing restraining us right now are habits, status quo and old norms that will fall by the wayside as the campaign ramps up and people start writing more and more of these million dollar checks. >> so it's clear we are going to have a oligarchky.
i got to see, he says to me, the money is the problem. we have to get rid of it. >> right. >> they have to fund raise just as -- the kinds of ways they have to fund raise. and this is indicative of where we are right now. if we're not outraged by this, this should be something all of us should complain about. it means the regular people, the power is in the hands of the people who are rich. we're powerless. >> i loved when you looked at me when you said outraged. get mad, america. here's the other premise we heard time and time again that money is speech and we have to allow it to be free. we've made a bargain in this country that transparency comes with it. if you want to write a million dollar check, that's okay, but we know who you are. we can follow the agenda. >> also democratic donors do not
seem to be attracted to this form as much as republicans are. the democratic super pacs are lagging way behind. >> the president's super pac raised $4 million or the associated super pac that is working on behalf of getting president obama re-elected. here's something interested, too, in the numbers in small dollar donations. one of the interesting cycles that happened, we had watergate and the post-watergate creation of campaign finance reform. we saw the slow dissolution, destruction of that system. howard dean campaign, and then the obama campaign. romney has 9% of his donations raised from small dollar donors. barack obama -- >> they're doing fine. >> barack obama, 47%. >> that's exactly the point. what we're seeing is another chapter. where the promise of the democratization of the small dollar donner is now going to be up against the people writing million dollar checks.
>> also, i think we have to look behind the scenes at the small dollar donations because there's this kind of mythos of people reaching into their pock tote scrape together the $5 donation. that's not the way small dollar donations work. there's a giant telemarketing machinery behind this. >> are you about to ruin -- >> in order to get those donations -- >> that was the reality in 2008 with president obama where people were reaching into their wallets and pulling out five and ten dollar bills. >> i saw a kid myself take five dollars and do it for america. >> the obama campaign has to invest millions of dollars into this massive organization that then calls all these people around the country, et cetera, et cetera and solicits the donations. >> the other thing you have to note is that even if you take small dollar donations which is defined by the fec at the $200 limit, above which you have to disclose the name of who's doing it, below which you can do
anonymously if you're giving directly to a campaign, even people giving small dollars, $100, $150, the percentage of the population that gives any money to any candidate ever is tiny. is very tiny. it is a very -- when we think about american democratization in toto, the broad citizenship of the country, it's democr democratizing for the 10% of people who give to cam panes. the overwhelming majority never give a dollar to campaigns. >> why should we? what are people getting for a dollar. >> when i think of the small dollar donations, the thing i can shake from my head is listening to john edwards in 2008. >> excuse me, who was that? >> john edwards telling the story of a little kid who sold his bike to send $25 into the campaign. and then flash forward 18 months and we're hearing about the payments that he made to his former mistress who made these quote, unquote campaign
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a smarter way to work with your pnc advisor, so you can make better decisions and live achievement. my story of the week democracy in cages. by now i'm guessing you've seen this snantly infamous interview of mitt romney the morning after he trounced newt gingrich. >> by the way, i'm in this race because i care about americans. i'm not concerned about the very poor, we have a safety net there. if it needs repair, i'll fix it. i'm not concerned about the very rich. they're doing just fine. i'm concerned about the heart of america, the 09%, 95% of americans who are struggling. i'll continue to take that message across the nation. >> he spent the last four days trying to spin himself away from his self-created mr. burns character. our democracy seems dysfunctional and diffuse.
the central genius of democracy is that it provides a constant mechanism of feedback in those in power. it forces those with power to listen to those without it. if you've ever followed a candidate around the campaign trail, you see how this works in person. the congressional candidate sheepishly going table to table at a local bingo hall getting an earful from cranky seniors, the county fairs and diner conversations. campaigns are when politicians are most forced to listen. question is who do they listen to? for one thing, voters in a few states. the early primary states of iowa and new hampshire get endless, obsessive attention to their concern and once the campaign turn to the general election, candidates focus on, almost exclusively, about a dozen swing states. what this means is that my 1.4 million residents of the bronx are ignored while the 1.3 million residents of new hampshire are lavished with aengs it. let's return to mr. romney's
somewhat idiasincraticy. it depends on getting those very rich people you claim not to care about to write you very big checks. as we just noted romney raised only 9% of his campaign's money from small dollar donors. and 86% of the money it raised came from 90 people who gave over $100,000 each. candidates of both parties need to court the very rich for their money and they need the actual votes of the middle class which means those who don't fall into thinks two categories can scream and moon and complain all they want but no one will hear them. this includes the very poor that romney so honestly dismissed. marginalized populations like the noncitizens languishing in the deportation bureaucracy.
most scandal lousily, the whopping who whopping 7 million people in the incarceration process. in 1980 there were 220 people were 100,000 behind bars. by 2010 that number was 731. according to analysis by a project, that puts us ahead of rwanda, reeling from prosecuting a genocide at 595 people were 100,000. way ahead of other industrialized nations such as pain at 154 and germany at 187. the money states spend on prisons have risen. if california emptied its prisons today and sent every inmate to a university of california college, it would save $7 billion a year. every year, an estimated 70,000 rapes take place in america's
prisons, more than half of all rapes in the entire nation. and because the majority of rape in america happens behind the walls of the penitentiary, we collectively shrug our shoulders or worse, turn it into a joke. if this were happening in any other population it would be an outrage and scandal. victims of their families would be giving their elected representatives an earful. can you imagine if there were 70,000 rapes a year in iowa? do you think the candidates would be forced to address it? there really are no elected representatives for our prisoners. 48 states felons lose some or all of voting rights. for the majority of americans, particularly say republican primary voters mitt romney is now courting the upp middle class independence he'll start courting soon, the upper class archipelago may as well be the moon. they know it's threw -- there.
there has been more attention paid to the actual moon, than the millions of souls locked inside our very own prisons. the ugliness of mass incarceration, the gruesome stories from behind prison walls are not new. a new way of addressing this american problem is a moral and fiscal imperative. what we're looking is the political imagination to make it so. all right. so -- prisons -- >> that was inspiring. >> this is one of those things, it was like climate change a few weeks ago, you sit and look at the week's news and the news cycle and you think about what are the stories of the week we're going to talk about. you think about what is important and what is not getting talked about, particularly in the campaign season, who isn't being represented or whose voices aren't being heard and you have to find a way to talk about it. there's never going to be a hook for the fact that we just
continue to warehouse millions of people in america's prisons. there's going to be no gaffe on the campaign trail related to it, right? no one's going to have to -- it's never going to -- >> the prison voters won't have their pac come together. >> yes, the prison super pac. >> the super mack super pac. >> it's not funny. >> i i this it's so gruesome. >> we go there because it's not funny and our political system seems incapable of dealing with this. we spent all this time parsing about what romney meant about the very poor. a lot of the very poor are locked up. and that he genuinely -- we do this stuff about what is he really like and barack obama is nice and romney's generous. when somebody has never spent a moment of their lives thinking about this and they don't have anyone in their family or extended family or their extended family's family --
>> that's exactly right. >> who has to deal with this, that's what he reflects. it's not that he's not a generous person, these things are not in his reality. >> i'll tell you a funny little known story about barack obama and prisons showing he is very different than that, that he has spent time in prisons. >> visiting. >> visiting. >> when he was in law school -- >> where are we going with this one? >> breaking news. >> hold up, america. >> this is a favorite old story of mine. when he was in law school, he played a lot of pickup basketball with other students and a bunch of students decided that they were going to go to a massachusetts penitentiary and play some basketball with some of the inmates. they did it for exactly the reason you're mentioning, joan. they said they didn't want to seem like they were harvard law students, like they were indifferent. they put together this group, go to this local penitentiary, very brave, they go play a game. they get there and situation is
a little scary, because they're told by the wardens what to do in case of a riot. the game is downstairs. there's kind of no escape. the prisoners are saying to them, i have two packs on you, man, you better perform. they played this intense basketball game against a bunch of inmates and they lose. which a couple of them later said they thought was a good thing. in the end but they said they were doing it as a sign of respect and connection to show that even though they were privileged law students, they had a sense of what was going on in the prisons. even though this was way back in the past, barack obama i think does that connection. >> barack obama is coming from organi the south side of chicago -- more than any other president, he's coming from a world in which that invisible universe in our midst -- i say our as someone who -- >> right. >> i'm going to leave this show and go home to my family in park slope, i'm going to walk in the park. i had this thought, i'll take my
baby for a walk in the park yesterday morning, while i was listening to who was going to be up next, michelle alexander and watching everyone walking their dogs and the sunlight filtering through the trees. there's another universe happening in our midst that i'm never going to visit or even see. >> you should be applauded. outside the most popular show on this network "lockup," and it is, for you to do this, you need to be applauded. reverbative effects on our society, while we may think it doesn't have impact on those of us who go home to park slope or wherever you live -- >> it does. >> it's so powerful. >> i want to talk about how that affects society with michelle alexander who wrote a book on
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be won when an attitude of mind and a change of heart take place in america. it's time, too, that we acknowledge the solution to the crime problem will not be found in the social workers' files, the psychiatrists' notes or the bureaucrats' budgets. >> to deny bail to a defendant posing a threat to the community, to make prison sentencing more certain, to end abuses of parole. retribution should be swift and sure for those who prey on the innocent. >> ronald reagan laying out some of the foundational logic of the american criminal justice system such as it is. i'd like to bring in michelle alexander, law professor at ohio state university and author of a fantastic book called "the new jim crow: mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness." good morning, michelle. >> good morning. >> michelle, this is a fantastic book. i hope people read it. one of the things i think that's interesting in the book is you talk about your own experience of coming to recognize what the
system was doing and what we are in the midst of. as someone who came to that realization, before we get into the details of what the system looks like and what it does to people, to talk about this political question of how do we go about creating the conditions under which this becomes a political issue, the way that we bridge the gap that right now means that it's consigned to the margins and communities that are experiencing the criminal justice system and it's not on the campaign trail in iowa. >> well, i think it is a huge challenge to put this near the top of the agenda. when prisons are out of sight, out of mind, and so many of the mainstream voters who hold so much influence in elections aren't directly affected by the system of mass incarceration and some of them don't even know people who are. so finding a way to really put this on the agenda is challenging. and i think it requires those of
us who do care, those of us who are conscious, to begin to dispel the myths about mass incarceration, the myth that the explosion in our prison population has been driven by crime and crime rates, dispel the myths that people of color are more likely to use or sell drugs than whites. it's not true. to dispel the myths about the reasons for the explosion of our prison population and to begin to tell the stories of those who have been locked up and permanently locked out of american society and allow them to share their stories. until we come to meet these people in the media, and through journalism, really meet them, hear them, and understand their stories, i think it would be easy for us to continue to demonize them and to view those populations as largely disposable. >> one of the myths you talked about, i think, is a central one that i want to grapple with.
a whole lot has gone wrong in america in the last ten years. one of the bright spots from someone raised in new york city, the dramatic decrease in crime across the un -- country. the crime rate has dropped. there is a myth that the two trends happened, one caused the other. we locked people up and the crime rate went down. what is your response to that? >> well, you know, as numerous sociologists and criminologists have now shown through their research, there is no clear correlation between the decline in crime rates in reen years and the rise in incarceration rates. in fact what we've seen is that instates that have not increased their incarceration much, there have been as steep declines in the crime rate as states where there have been enormous escalations in the prison population.
there's a lot of debate about what has caused the decline in crime nationwide but what's clear is that simply building more prisons and filling them does not reduce crime., though, is many in many communities, particularly communities of color, is the rise of a virtual police state where hundreds of thousands of people in a given city are stopped, searched, frisked, you know, treated like potential suspects, and enormous numbers are shuttled into prisons and jails often for, you know, nonviolent, relatively minor drug offenses the sort of crimes that occur with roughly equal frequency in college campuses and go largely ignored. once you're branded a criminal or felon, you're trapped in a permanent second class status for life. >> that branding you talk about in the book in the way it -- i
want to discuss more about that after the break. [ female announcer ] crest 3d white was recognized by marie claire as one of the 25 beauty products that will change your life because it whitens by removing up to 80% of surface stains. see how it can change your life. crest 3d white. life opens up when you do.
michelle alexander, law professor and author you the new jim crow and its effects on american society and politics. you just said something before the break in the way you're being arrested, prosecuted, pleaing out marks you permanently. >> yes. >> i want you to talk about this. one of the things that happen is even in the discussion about mass incarceration, we talk about the physical structures and the people inside them and one of the revelations of the book to me was thinking more broadly about how anyone who circles through at any given moment, then bears a kind of permanent mark on their record that completely alters what part of society they can be a part of. >> yes. this system is really dependent more on the prison label than on prison time. once you're branded a criminal
or felon, you're relegated to that for life. you may be stripped to the right to vote. you're deemed ineligible for jury service the rest of your life and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, public benefits. you can be denied even food stamps if you're a drug felon in many states. many people, i think, have this general sense, yes, when you get out of prison, life is hard but, you know, if you a he ply a certain measure of self-discipline and pull yourself up by your boot straps, you can make it, but the reality is that for the rest of your life, you've got to check that box on employment application asking the dreaded question have you ever been convicted of a felon. hundreds of professional licenses are off limits to people who have felon records. in ohio, you can't get a license to be a barber if you're convicted of a felon. many people say they could get a job at mcdonald's but actually
getting a job at mcdonald's is no easy feat if you've been convicted of an felon. people returning home from prison, their families risk eviction if they live in public housing if they allow their loved one to come home to them. just basic survival is extraordinarily difficult for millions of people who have been swept into the system through the war on drugs and the get tough movement, both of which have been concentrated in poor communities of color which, you know, would have benefited from a massive infusion of investment in education and economic investment in job creation but, instead, we spend a trillion dollars on a drug war and a prison building boom. >> you talked about checking a box on employment applications. naacp and others have been waging a campaign to get large employers to stop putting that box on applications because it
acts as a very easy screen for these folks that are trying to reintegrate into society and we are making it as difficult as possible. i'd like you to stick around because i want to talk more about this topic with our guests when we come back. [ male announcer ] little owen wanted to play, but his nose was raw and sore. achoo! [ male announcer ] and common tissue made it burn even more. ♪ puffs plus lotion is more soothing than common tissue, and it delivers our most soothing lotion for every nose issue. a nose in need deserves puffs plus lotion indeed. to give your cold a comforting scent, try puffs plus lotion with the scent of vicks. for fastidious n emily skinner, each day was fueled by thorough preparation for events to come. well somewhere along the way, emily went right on living. but you see, with the help of her raymond james financial advisor, she had planned for every eventuality.
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thanks to spark, owning my own business has never been more rewarding. [ male announcer ] introducing spark the small business credit cards from capital one. get more by choosing unlimited double miles or 2% cash back on every purchase, every day. what's in your wallet? this guy's amazing. good morning p.m. i good many with us is michell alexander. michelle, karen hunter had a question she wanted to ask you. >> i was reading a book last night. when we think of america we don't think of this cast system even being possible here. that just struck me. but the other thing you call it
jim crow but i think it's deeper than that. the 13th amendment abolished slavery except for prisons. if you're incarcerated you're legally a slave in this country. i was reading it and felt so depressed. how do we break through that? i was under the impression the war on drugs started, you know, under reagan era to weed out crack in the black communities and what michelle was saying in her book the war on drugs happened and then the crack, you know, explosion happened after it. how is that possible? >> yes. well, many people assumed. in fact, for a long time, i believed it was the case that the war on drugs was declared in response to the emergence of crack cocaine and the related violence in inner city communities but it's not true. president reagan declared it when drug was on the decline,
not on the rise. it was before, not after crack really began to ravage inner city communities and become a media sensation. president richard nixon was the first to coin the term a war on drugs. but it was president ronald reagan who turned that rhetorical war into a drug crime. why declare a drug war when drug crime is actually on the decline and the american public isn't too much concerned about it? from the outset, the war on drugs had relatively little to do with genuine concern about drug addiction and drug abuse and nearly everything to do with politics, racial politics. numerous historians and political scientists have now documented the war on drugs was part of that grand republican party strategy known as the southern strategy of using racially coded get tough appeals on issues of crime and welfare to appeal to poor and working
class whites, particularly in the south, who are anxious about and resentful of many of the gains of african-americans in the civil rights movement. so when president ronald reagan declared his drug war, it was an effort to make good on campaign promises to get tough on a group of people, not so suddenly, defined by race. >> michelle, let me say one thing. i'd like you to respond to. hearing that, that tracks with the way that i think about the politics of this and your book -- on this point but also the case, right? we had this explosion of crime in the country that created the conditions, created a receptivity among the populous for the message. >> absolutely. >> the crime rates do go haywire in the '60s and '70s in a way happened happened before or since. there was a bizarre period that -- whether the strategy behind it was completely the cynical manipulation among
populists i think the two met each other with sort of awful consequences. >> perfect storm. >> absolutely. rising crime rates in the '70s created a virpt where the public was receptive to the get tough. there was, you know, severe crime problem in many cities. sociologist wilson has shown that crime problem wasn't something wrong with black culture or people all of a sudden developing some kind of pathology and predeposition to crime. the reason for the increase in the crime rates was a sudden wave of joblessness in urban areas as factories closed down and began to kind of move overseas and technological innovation rendered so many of the jobs that particularly black men had once relied upon for
their basic living van issued. hundreds of thousands of jobs van issued practically overnight in cities across america. we could have responded to this sudden crisis, this wave of joblessness with, you know, care, compassion, concern, economic stimulus packages, job creation programs, investing in education so folks could make the rough transition to a new service based economy. but instead of doing all of that, we declared a war on drugs and began to round people up en masse viewing them as largely disposable. >> jody has a question for you. >> michelle, we were just talking about the fact that president barack obama is so aware of the issues that you write about and so is attorney general eric holder. how do you rate their performance on these issues? >> well, to be honest, i'm quite
disappointed. and the reason is that, you know, there has been a shift in the rhetoric, but not a meaningful shift in policy. barack obama's drug czar has said we shouldn't call this a war on drugs any more because we on the not be at war with our own people and that is absolutely right, but if you actually take a look at the obama administration drug control budget, the obama administration invested the same racial dollars and enforcement as compared to drug prevention and treatment as the bush administration. so we have seen a shift in rhetoric but i don't think we have yet seen the kind of change in policy that would be necessary for it to have a real impact on the ground. so we have got to do more than just talk about these issues differently. we are going to have to roll back the very policies that have
led to the prison boom. >> michelle wants to ask you a question. >> on behalf of people who care about justice, just thank you so much. you are a great spokesperson for a great cause that needs attention. >> thank you. >> secondly, i want to talk about this opportunity cost. not just of treating and labeling peep as prisoners but especially of young people and actual children, the criminalization of children, their families, and the broken juvenile justice system. i have a friend who worked in oakland with a center who started an organization called justice for families and tries to destigmatize the families of these kids and what more needs to happen around our youth who are also being poisoned with this label and having their whole futures written off? >> well, i have to say i'm so inspired by the work of the ella baker center in oakland. you know, they have launched campaigns to close juvenile prisons in california, successful campaigns to close juvenile prisons in california,
and they have shown the power of youth organizing, the blending hip-hop culture with consciousness raising among young people can be potent and really powerful. so i think there's examples of organizing efforts, youth-led organizing efforts all over the country where people are coming together and demanding education, not incarceration, jobs, not jails, and i think that is the most helpful sign. it's unreasonable to expect that politicians are going to sing a different tune unless there really is a ground swell, a mobilization from the bottom up. groups like the ella baker center, i think, are leading the way. >> on one hopeful note to think about in the same way the rise of the spike crime in the 1970s created the preconditions among the population to be receptive to the worst kind of message on this issue, perhaps the diminution of crime in the last ten years will create some
latitude politically. i think among the populists to think the way we approach crime and justice. michelle alexander, thank you. author of the "the new jim crow". thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. how michelle obama has defined her role as first lady is next. ♪ [ male announcer ] from our nation's networks... ♪ ...to our city streets... ♪ ...to skies around the world... ♪ ...northrop grumman's security solutions are invisibly at work, protecting people's lives... [ soldier ] move out! [ male announcer ] ...without their even knowing it. that's the value of performance. northrop grumman.
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she sat down with jay leno the other night and talked about when the president ever so briefly at the apollo theater in harlem chanted al green. >> did he ever say to you, honey, i'm going to sing? >> no, that was completely spontaneous. i never heard about it until it got on youtube. he does have a beautiful voice and he sings to me all the time. he does. he sings that song. that's why i knew when people said he sang, i said, i bet he sang al green. ♪ i he does that all the time. i can't sing. >> i think it's fair to say he has a better singing voice than you? >> he absolutely does. he doesn't hesitate to show off his lungs to his wife. he's good. >> i think it's so interesting to see how much michelle obama -- first of all, the person of michelle obama as a human being, i think, is fascinating and incredibly appealing.
her favor ability ratings reflect that. >> you missed i carly. >> a good show. >> i said what is that? >> do you have a little girl? >> i do but she's too much. okay, okay, i'm going to get blown up on twitter for saying i don't know what that is. but i think that she is such a fascinating and powerful figure, but also i think is having to deal with and navigate a set of confining roles and expectations what she is in public? jody, obviously, your book got a lot of attention when it first came out and there was a lot of backlash in sort of, i think, both from the white house and in other venues that you had, you know, portrayed her as an angry black lady. here is an interview with her on cbs "morning news" talking about sort of in vague terms about response to the book. >> i guess it's more interesting to imagine this conflicted
situation here and a strong woman and, you know, but that's been an image that people have tried to paint of me since, you know, the day barack announced that i'm so angry black woman. who can write about how i feel? who? what third person can tell me how i feel? or anybody, for that matter. >> i want you to respond to this but in a more specific way to this. to step away from the racial subjects of this which is also profound and profuses all of it. you know, i have found in my own life that a marriage is a=x( unknowable entity to anyone outside it. people --q+x this happens in everyone's life. some couple that you think, man, they are bad news. but they stay together forever. some couple you think are the absolute best, you find out they split up and you're devastated and you realize what was happening in that little unit you did not know at all, right? that is the fundamental truth, i
think, about the most intimate relationship we have. i wonder, as a journalist, how do you go about transcending that fundamental unknow ability of the relationship between two people when that is the ostensible subject of your book? >> the subject of my book was not secrets of the obama marriage, let's hear, you know, about what they are talking about at the dinner table every night. it's a political at the political relationship and they have been documenting these relationships for generation. franklin and eleanor rows skeleton and bill and hillary clinton. the reason we are so interested in these partnerships is the unique thing about presidential marriages is that they affect the rest of us. the back and forth dynamic of these two people have consequences for the nation and what, you know, things have really changed in terms of the discussion of the book because something amazing happened a few days after publication which is that people actually started reading the book and instead of
making sort of pronouncements on cable tv and twitter about it, the conversation turned much more serious and much about -- the depiction in the book of michelle obama is not that of an angry black woman, it's a really impassioned, strong woman, who is trying to find her way as first lady. i would also say it's very deceptive if you only read the first chapter or two because it's a turnaround story and it's actually a story of her success in the white house. >> let me say, having read the book, i think she comes across very well. in fact, the thing that comes across most clearly book is a human person dealing with an inhumane system. a sane person in insane circumstances. if anyone you said to them you're a successful, extremely successful corporate lawyer, hospital executive, nice life in hyde park and now you're the most famous person in the world essentially, right? or partner to the most famous
person in the world? that will be tough to deal with. >> i haven't read the book. no disrespect. don't plan on reading it but i also understand kind of the pressures to produce -- you got seven figures for this. you got a lot of money to write this book which means that you had to deliver certain things that i, quite frankly, don't think you could have you know, given the amount of money that you were offered to do this book. >> but that -- >> so i ask the question, i ask the question what was your motivation if you didn't have personal interviews with the president or the first lady to produce something called the obamas which was an in-depth look at this you power couple what was your motivation for doing it? >> first of all, i've been covering the obamas for five years for "the new york times." and when i wrote the book, i not only had the cooperation of the white house, but the entire book was fact checked with its sources and cross-checked with other people in the white house. nobody has challenged the reporting in the book. nobody has come forward to say,
michelle obama didn't do that, she didn't have that dispute. >> but there is a tone. >> excuse me. please let me finish. so i think that, first of all, you never do your work as a reporter based on how much you're being paid for it. whether you're being paid a lot or a little, you always try to ascertain the same standards of fairness and accuracy. and, you know, my goal in doing the book was really to concentrate on the central question i've been reporting on for five years, which is the transformation. what happens when you take these two regular people from chicago, very talented, very ambitious, but people who lead pretty regular lives and put them in the system that, as chris says, is so unusual and so when i -- when i decided to do the book, i didn't have any of the confidential that i learned about michelle obama's initial unhappiness in the white house and her turnaround about the
conflict between the east sxean the west wing. the nature is you never know what you're going to discover along the way. >> i want to zoom from the book and talk about what the first lady is talking about. >> it is first lady? >> what michelle obama's role has been. i think it has -- she has now become a much more public figure. i think it's fair to say and particularly as we -- i think there is -- i feel like she is handling it with tremendous grace just from my amateur sort of perch as a viewer of watching her navigate this. >> i agree completely. you know, i read the book and i did find it very sympathetic and she comes off as a wonderful person, but we are in this world, she's in this world where everything is scrutinized and more than that. everything she does is twisted by this horrible right wing machine that is determined to show her -- the perversion.
i got from the book how america and the obamas are and specifically she chose as her priority childhood obesity, childhood exercise, good nutrition. which is a very private sort of -- it's exactly what the right wing -- >> she still got creamed for -- >> right. it's about personal behavior. those chubby people or those people walked more, there is nowhere to walk. if they just had better food. supermarkets don't exist in their neighborhoods. she did attack it on a personal level, we can all move more, as well as somewhat systemic in terms of grocery stores and et cetera and fresh foods but she is creamed for this. she became the hell czar and is forcing people to wake up and do jumping jacks with her. >> she has a organic garden in the white house and shets a week from the fertilizer pesticide
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more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. get more project for your money - like this valencia vanity, now just 199 bucks. know black people! >> welcome back to the show. i know black people. we take contestants who claim to know black people and put their knowledge of african-american culture to the test. why do black people love menthol so much? >> i don't -- i don't know. >> that is correct! >> all right! >> nobody knows! nobody knows. why did black people distrust ronald reagan? >> because he was white? >> that is correct! because he was white? >> that is correct. >> he wasn't supposed to be
trusted in the first place. >> he is correct. >> i just amazingly use any opportunity to show a clip of that. >> you don't need any excuse. >> i thought the sense ability of that and the way in which chappell show would deal with race on two levels. it was kind of -- it was poking fun of the fact that it was talking about race sort of self-aware, reminds me of the tone that you take in your book how to be black which is a great read. >> thank you. >> and the press from it says if you do not buy this book, you're racist. >> which is also true. i don't put random things in the flap of my book. that's scientifically proven. >> you get at some of the, i think, the confines of the ways in which identity can be confining but also just defining
of who we are? in a way i think is a recurring theme in your book, jodi, about the president and the first lady, because they are simultaneously, there is a c concentric circles of roles they are defined, right? and i think that -- i want you to talk about how you sort of thought through what you wanted this book to be from that perspective. >> i wanted it to be a personal book and it primarily is. i wanted it to be fawny book and that opens the door to more people who dent think thidn't wn to what you to say. how to be the next black president with "next" in pa r parenthes parentheses. i started with the world. looking at how people have responded to this presidency, to the candidacy and then to the presidency. just as a record first of all, i love that michelle can dance and obama is the one that can sing.
and they don't cross over. he can't dance but he is still black. that is fun too. the fears of socialism and outsiderness and the idea of that black president can't directly take on issues of black people where he is seen as such a threat. one of my lessons in how to be the next black president. don't look at black people in the eye and don't call out black issues. you can talk about urban issues and the middle class and the rising tide lifting all boats but there is a fear that is triggered some of the reaction is that he is going to hook up all of the black people, he is going to hand out checks to everybody through the new banking system to negroes and he is somehow setting up which is not the case. he is more restricted in some ways how he can articulate what is going on in that part of the country. >> sometimes the first lady, i feel, is more sort of elegant in describing this. when she thaws about childhood obesity she will often say this is a problem that affects everybody but it
disproportionately affects black and latino communities. >> first of all, your mother -- i just -- >> thank you. >> she did a great job. >> thank you. >> your back story of people, please read it. and i had to read your book because i needed to make sure that i was actually black and i tweeted this morning i was going to be extra black. >> we did -- >> we did the -- >> but there is this pressure. and, you know, growing up in my community and then going to the daily news and going to the school the first week at drew university one of the white students came up to me and said you don't belong here anyway because you're part of fa eof program. i said, no, my father paid full tuition and i graduated in the top 5% of my class and my a.c.t. scores are probably higher than yours but i thought why am i defending that? but that is how things are shaped. i realized in that moment i'm going to be as black as i can! every moment, every store yo type and i'm going to succeed and i hope he is watching this
this morning. because, hey! >> karen hunter is putting everyone on blast this morning. >> that is the black in me. >> i like when we talk about that word as a describer and the phrase being black works and so and so, i'm going to be so black. even when they describe things in the converse of white, that's so white, right? white people like. and navigating exactly those phrases was the -- is, in some ways, the entire project to the barack obama campaign when he ran the first time and navigating it as the entire subtax of what he has to do every day in navigating the politics. >> i talk about early in the book this idea there are these types that are acceptable for understanding what black is. you got the criminal, the drug dealer, the thug, the sassy black woman, the angry black woman and add to that list, the u.s. president. >> right. >> there is something fun about, oh, yeah, you got to be a drug dealer or a ballplayer or the
president. that contrast, even as unreachable as that office is from the vast majority of us, regardless of race, there is something fun that the mere -- a fact of his being and her being together in that house have changed the conversation a little bit. >> absolutely changed the conversation. we are living in a social experiment. for years and years, we talked about we need to have a national conversation on race. we really do. we will get to it next year probably. >> that's a big thing. >> i don't know. but we are doing it. we are doing it in real-time and in our private homes and it's hard sometimes. i said this about jodi's book. i think she tried to grapple with it and sometimes didn't get it right in my opinion but we have to teach one another how to get it right. >> blacks aren't aliens. >> no. >> maybe newt gingrich would like us to be. are we? >> that is the last chapter of the book. >> don't give away our secrets. >> don't do that. the fact we have to be examined under this microscope under this criticism that no other race has
to deal with to me is so bizarre and goes back to michelle in the last segment if you read her book that, you know, there is a conspiracy, it just feels like it, to categorize and put us in this box as if we're different. we are not. we want the same things. people grow up and want a safe mand for their kids and want schools that work and they want to make a living. there is nothing different about us that would make such -- >> are you saying black people are people? >> i want to talk about this precise thing about difference and what the significance is right after this break. >> sorry. i got passionate. the other office devices? they don't get me. they're all like, "hey, brother, doesn't it bother you that no one notices you?" and i'm like,
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president and racial -- i think you eluded to this and mentioned it the way in which the fact he is constantly navigating these different racial stereotypes and boxes and confining boxes and trying to transcend them and at times embrace them in sort of equal measure makes it difficult to actually, i think, explicitly talk in racial terms about policy, right? there is a sense the black president can't get up and say, you know, our criminal justice system is superracist. >> but so much fear and just so many people want him to be so many things. both positively and negatively. the republicans want him, need him -- not all of them -- but many at the extreme need him to be this other, this alien. >> we have a tape. this was probably the most -- this happened pretty early in the presidency. i was at that press conference. he was asked about a question from henry louis gates -- was he
arrested? >> yes, on his porch. >> on his own porch arrested and asked a question about it from the chicago sun times. >> what i think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of african-americans and latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. that's just a fact. that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in the society. that doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. i am standing here at testimony to the progress that's been made. and, yet, the fact of the matter is that, you know, this still haunts us. >> wait. i think we have to give the context also. which is that part of the reason this turned into a mess is that that press conference was supposed to be about health care reform. >> that's right.
the last question, i think, actually. >> the president was trying so hard to turn the subject. this is the era of the death panel accusations and they are trying to so hard to turn the conversation into a serious constructive discussion of health care reform and then the car goes off the road into race. >> and that moment, i remember sitting in the room watching and being like this is really honest. it was like this moment where, all of a sudden, everything dropped away about barack obama and this person who has been so careful and you could see how careful is he there. not like he is letting himself go but honest reaction to the fact of it. >> that level of honesty is something people claim to want but they rarely do. >> right. >> then when it comes -- when it comes out from him, you know, even navigating and relating this obvious truth that we all have to agree to because the data shows it, he is like love america, love america. it actually does lessen some of the greatness of the country you have this stop and frisk policy
which he is essentially calling out but america is still a great place. got to pledge allegiance as i'm telling painful truths about the nation. >> and he still got flak for it. >> to me it was a defining moment. i think it was similar thing happened in the civil liberties where they signed the executive order on guantanamo and they released those sea memos and it just blew up. it was a huge thing. dick cheney was on the news everywhere. you've seen since then, it's like, okay, touch the hot pot once, we're not going to touch it again. politically and you've seen with this issue it was like, okay, got it. >> that's part of -- i mean, i think we are watching so much. this is the beauty, the examination of the presidency and of race in this conversation. it's such public. we are watching this dance and we are watching this navigation and we are seeing because they are the first, the first always, they are the pioneers, they deal with all of this stuff. one of the things i would have loved to have said in the book the second black president is
really going to be the first plaq black president because the obamas have opened the door and the second generation will know what we are getting into. >> you have to look at the history of the presidency which is strange, because our country has always been diverse and our leadership has really never been diverse. it's not like we had the first latino american president and the first asian american president. >> we only had one catholic president. >> we have one nonwashnonwasp president. >> i thought the first was -- oprah wants to interview her because she is a great open wra story. they say oprah wants you on. do you want to do it? she says, no, i don't like to be famous. i like slipping out of the gates and i shop in private and quiet and everybody there just thinks
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quick update on a story last week when we interviewed eric schniderman. yesterday, he announced he filed a lawsuit against several of the nation's largest banks including j.p. morgan chase and wells fargo accusing them of fraud and deceit when using an electronic registry. ? a second i'll tell you what i didn't know when the week began but right now a preview of what is coming up this morning on "weekend with alex witt. >> the nevada gop caucus about to get under way.
one of the big questions today good numbers on the economy complicate the gop message against the president? it is also the most powerful storm of the winter. it pounded colorado and now it's moving east but how far will it reach? we will bring you a live report owe that. countdown to the super bowl. some numbers are staggering like this. how much would you have to pay for a ticket now? we are going to have that and more in 15 minutes. we are lucky because you're working tomorrow so we don't have to pay for those tickets. >> exactly right. thanks. >> okay. thanks to release of the fell election commission filings for the end of the year 2011, we now know what we always suspected. that the new superpacs is an instrument for the extremely wealthy. we know pro romney super pac restore our future which is the largest got 86% of its money in donations greater than a hundred thousand raising nearly 26 million dollars from just 90 donors. we know the obama supporting
super pac is barely raking in the dough with just $4 million in donations but the obama re-election campaign is the most fund-raising machine in the history of the country. each without being able to rely on million dollar checks, last year, the president's campaign has raised a staggering $125 million but impressively nearly half of that has come from donations of $200 or less. we know now the small dollar donations account for just 9% of mitt romney's total haul. we know that mike daisy who joins us last week to talk about his one-man show the agony of steve jobs has inspired apple consumers to protest unfair labor practices and abuse at apple's suppliers and factories in china and listening to him, one apple user wrote a letter that massed over 150,000 signatures writing, quote, you're supposed to think different. i want to continue to use and love the products you make because they are changing the world and how already have
changed my life but i want to know when i buy products from you it's not at the cost of horrible human suffering. we know retired lapd steven downey got the most votes of 220,000 people who submitted questions to a host with the president competition. here is his competent. >> for my decades of law enforcement experience, i've come to see our country's drug policies as a failure and a complete waste of criminal justice resources. according to the gallup poll, the number of americans who support legalizing and regulating marijuana now outnumber those who support continuing prohibition. what do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you have delivered in your first term? >> fortunately, we know that google ignored his question and downey's response it's worse than silly that you waste the time of the president and the american peek discussing things like midnight snacks and playing
tennis when a much more pressing question in the minds of people who took the time. we are tired of the serious public policy crisis being pushed aside or laughed off. finally and sadly we know we will forever be without a truly great sole pioneer. don cornelius died this week if in an apparent suicide leaving behind a legacy. he was the creator of the path breaking "soul train" tv show and premiered in 1970 and an instant hit. in a wonderful remembrance, it was said that black is beautiful was the riskiest radical life changing move america has seen. we know in living rooms and dance floors across the country don cornelius will be missed. what do my guests know they didn't know when the week began? we will find out after this. [ male announcer ] we know you don't wait
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♪ that's a shout-out to the people who have been tracking the amazing ice cube good day detective work going on right now as a very smart listener found the actual day ice cube was talking about in that song and some response to the internet and i've been obsessed with it all week. i want to know what my guests know now they didn't know when the week began. >> i think we learned that people don't want breast cancer add vocacy tied up with politic and we understand what it does and understand the breadth of what it does and wouldn't let it be reduced to simply abortion and i thought that was an awesome thing to learn. >> we didn't talk it about today because we are going to talk about it tomorrow and we have a bunch of great folks that will be here to talk about that. you wrote a really good piece
which i commend to the viewers. it was amazing to watch the whole whole thing develop. somebody in our editorial meetings described it it was so effective. >> it was not organized. it just took off because people really cared and understood what it meant. >> karen hunter? >> i didn't know that joan walsh could bounce to the music. she must have really read the book from cover-to-cover. today is leap year and one extra day of black history month. if it was my choice i would incorporate it into every single day because black history is not something that should be separate but part and parcel of this country and the world. thank you, thank you very much. >> there's a funny listing of the different history months in how to be black i didn't existed. the irish had have a history month.
>> i learn the obamas are not doing a super bowl party this year which i was fascinated by. as i was reporting my book one of the things that i talked about was the way even stuff like the super bowl and being a regular sports fan is affected by the presidency and it becomes more and more political. the obamas started using the super bowl as an indication for pl politicking. he was to be neutral last year because a lot of people in wisconsin got peeved he wasn't going to root for the packers. they are trying to take the super bowl and watch it as regular people. >> private thing. watch the game. yeah. exactly. those are sort of things where you got to carve out a little bit of space. >> exactly. >> what do you know now you did not know at the beginning of the week? >> a couple of things. i know newt gingrich has a larger ego than i thought. >> no! that's impossible! that is impossible! >> i thought it was impossible. then he compared himself to the
people who died in the revolutionary war to sacrifice in the country. i have also learned from this show, a great show and not just saying that but i learned that michelle is my new favorite person, michelle alexander is and i will read her book again and spread the links through the world because the world needs to know that story and start to act on it. >> in my inbox we got responses from that. you didn't talk about pedophiles and felons that got out and killed someone. it's a much longer discuss. if you joined us in the second hour, we had michelle alexander a, a law professor who wrote the book "the new jim crow." the rest of the campaign we want to talk about what they are talking about on the campaign and things they are not talking about on the campaign. >> i thought it was interesting she was tougher on the president than any of us were. >> she was.
>> she just asked. >> what is your opinion? >> she just asked. >> she is the expert. she has a lot of authority. >> people should definitely check our michelle alexander's book "the new jim crow." we are moving a lot of book merchandise today! >> the last time we book three ourges on tauthors. >> where is my book? >> my thanks to joan walsh. we will have you back when your book comes out. karnt hunter, msnbc contributor. jodi kantor and bariton thurston, thank you all for joining us.
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